I like to think of myself as the Beatles

In recent posts, I’ve been mostly been talking about rewrites and J.K.Rowling (Hi, J.K., hope you’re well) and – being the literary marvel that I am – I thought I’d combine these two elements into a fresh post, as well as discussing the Beatles.

I’ve noticed that when some people ask me how my book is going and I tell them I’m reworking it before another batch of query letters go out, they seem to feel sorry for me… like I’m failing or something. I don’t know why.

And whenever my attempts to get published via the traditional method and J.K.Rowling are mentioned in the same sentence, the next comment is invariably, “You know that Harry Potter was rejected by most publishers before it became a massive hit, don’t you?” Yes, I do. And this is always encouraging.

However

I wonder if the version of we’ve all read of The Philosopher’s Stone is exactly the same as that which was sent out to all those publishers all those times prior to it being accepted? I doubt it. I’ll bet the query letter was reworked many times too.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 17.36.19The same story is told of the Beatles: The Fab Four were rejected by numerous record labels and famously told they “have no future in show business“, which may well have been true of them at the time. But during those audition sessions, how much altering did Brian Epstein (their manager) do to their look, their suits, their hair? How much more rehearsing did he make them do? How much was their repertoire honed to make them more commercial? How many times was John told to keep his mouth shut and let Brian do the talking? How much better did they become after each rejection?

You see where I’m going with this?

So, while I have received just as many rejections as J.K. and just as many refusals as the Beatles, I shall carry the spirt of those from-multi-rejetion-to-glory stories with me. Just as I believe they stoically altered their work until it was palatable and as good as it could be, so shall I happily continue with the rewrites of my novel and that seemingly never-ending culling of adverbs. It doesn’t get me down. It’s just part of the process.

I think that when we hear these stories, we all assume the publishers and record labels were mad to turn down these guys because just look at what they were capable of. “Idiots!” we all say. Yes… but what we know of J.K and the Beatles, is not what they were initially sending out. That came later.

Note: Can I make it clear that I do not expect to make as a big a splash as Help! or Harry Potter. I just want to know that, whatever happens, my work is the best it can be and if, sometime into the distant future, one of my grandchildren decides they would like to read granddad’s infamous novel, they won’t think it’s a pile of slush.

And so, whilst this getting published affair may seem long and drawn out, it’s all good.

Thanks for reading.

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4 comments on “I like to think of myself as the Beatles

  1. Adan Ramie says:

    I think this a great way of looking at rejection. Sure, not everyone will like your best work. Maybe the manuscript WAS the best it could be, and that particular publisher or agent just wasn’t into it. But for those who think every manuscript they send out is perfect, I advise a healthy reality check, and another look-through of their work.

    • gpeynon says:

      I agree. I’ve thought my MS was finished on many occasions, but it wasn’t. I do believe I’m approaching it being about as good as it can be, but who knows? Let’s wait and see. I’m about to start a series of blog posts where I apply every single one of Stunk and White’s rules from The Elements of Style. That may highlight a few issues too.

      • Adan Ramie says:

        That sounds like a really interesting series. I’m excited to see what you come up with!

      • gpeynon says:

        Thanks. I’ve already applied the first 3 rules and it’s already proving to be quite interesting (and great way to look at my MS from a different perspective).

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